As the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation’s Senior Scientist, C. Tracy Orleans, PhD, leads the Foundation's efforts to develop and disseminate science-based strategies for addressing the major behavioral causes of preventable death and chronic disease. Orleans also is the Foundation’s first distinguished fellow (2005-2009), a role in which she is developing innovative approaches for assuring that the Foundation's commitments in key goal areas, especially tobacco control and childhood obesity prevention, will have a broad and lasting impact. She oversees a current portfolio of more than $375 million in RWJF national programs and grants.
Recruited to the Foundation in 1996 as a national leader in tobacco control and health behavior change research and practice, Orleans focused through 1999 on expanding the Foundation's investments in policy-based approaches to tobacco cessation, and on defining the Foundation's strategy in health care system-based approaches to chronic disease management, as convener of both the Tobacco and Chronic Disease Management Working Groups, respectively. She then led the Foundation’s Health & Behavior Team, through 2004, in promoting the adoption nationally of healthy behaviors, including the team’s pioneering investments in “active living” policy and environmental approaches to physical activity promotion. She has led or co-led over a dozen research-based national programs (e.g., Addressing Tobacco in Health Care, Helping Young Smokers Quit, the Substance Abuse Policy Research Program, Bridging the Gap, Improving Chronic Illness Care, Active Living Research, and Healthy Eating Research) and has directed numerous external program evaluations.
Orleans describes working at the Foundation as “an extraordinary opportunity to make a difference in trying to solve some of the country's most pressing health and health care problems—to do pioneering conceptual work, and at the same time to have impact populationwide, and to do so with extremely creative and committed colleagues inside and outside the Foundation.”
A clinical health psychologist, Orleans served as president of the Society of Behavioral Medicine in 2000, is a fellow of the American Psychological Association and of the Society of Behavioral Medicine, and was elected to the Academy of Behavioral Medicine Research in 1998 for her distinguished contributions in clinical health psychology and population health behavior change. She has been awarded the American Society of Preventive Oncology’s Joseph Cullen Tobacco Control Research Award, the Society of Behavioral Medicine’s Distinguished Scientist Award and Distinguished Service Award, and the John Slade Tobacco Policy Leadership Award of the Society for Research on Nicotine and Tobacco.
Orleans was the first behavioral scientist appointed to the U.S. Preventive Services Task Force. She has contributed to several Surgeon General’s Reports and co-edited the first medical text on the management of nicotine addiction. In 2005 she was recognized by the journal Tobacco Control as one of the 100 most widely cited authors in the field of tobacco control. She continues to serve on numerous journal editorial boards, national scientific panels and advisory groups (e.g., Institute of Medicine, National Cancer Institute, National Commission on Prevention Priorities, Legacy Foundation). She has been a principal investigator of many National Institutes of Health grants and has authored or co-authored more than 200 publications. She is especially pleased that her early innovative work in tobacco control and cessation programs continue to have wide impact in helping smokers quit, including the Johnson & Johnson worksite tobacco control program; “Free & Clear”, the first “proactive” telephone quitline; and pioneering programs for older adult smokers (“Clear Horizons”) and African American smokers (“Pathways to Freedom”).
Prior to joining the Foundation, Orleans served as vice president for research and development of Johnson & Johnson Applied Behavioral Technologies, full member and director of Tobacco Research at the Fox Chase Cancer Center, research associate at the Cecil B. Sheps Center for Health Policy Research at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill and assistant professor of Medical Psychology/Psychiatry at Duke University Medical Center.
Orleans earned a PhD in clinical psychology from the University of Maryland with a clinical internship at Duke University Medical Center, and a BA summa cum laude and Phi Beta Kappa from Wellesley College.
Orleans lives in Princeton with her husband, Jeffrey, executive director of the Council of Ivy Group Presidents. They have two sons, Jesse and Alexander. They are year-round baseball fans, readers, and visitors to New York City, and make family trips to North Carolina’s Outer Banks whenever they can, but not often enough.